Money | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Money, Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, at the Storefront Theater. Social reformer and unmitigated dandy Edward Bulwer-Lytton may have been a prolific, popular, and influential author in his day: he gave Dickens the ending to Great Expectations, and Mary Shelley called him "a magnificent writer." But today he's a literary joke, best known for the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford: "It was a dark and stormy night." Born into privilege, he earned great wealth from his prodigious oeuvre yet railed against the separation of rich and poor; in his 1840 play Money he put his liberal outrage to quaint, creaky use.

Studious, virtuous Alfred Evelyn, secretary to his scheming, social-climbing cousin, is treated as so much garbage by everyone around him--until he inherits an immense fortune. Suddenly tradesmen, politicians, aristocrats, and relations fawn all over him. When it appears his wealth has vanished, they spurn him once again. Bulwer-Lytton complicates matters with three obstacle-laden love affairs and many attempted witticisms--most of which fall flat. But his social satire, the play's reason for being, is too thin to fuel five acts.

James Bohnen directs a fine cast led by the charismatic Raymond Fox as Evelyn, and this is a smartly paced, handsomely designed production. But for all the talent assembled, Money remains a starchy museum piece that offers only the most obvious observations on human nature.

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